— ABC News (@ABC) January 17, 2019
Vice President Mike Pence has responded to criticism that his wife teaches at a Christian school that requires staff and students to adhere to Christian standards of sexual behavior, calling the negative reaction “deeply offensive.”
“My wife and I have been in the public eye for quite a while. We’re used to the criticism,” Pence said in an interview with Eternal Word Television Network, a Catholic broadcaster.
“But I have to tell you, to see major news organizations attacking Christian education, is deeply offensive to us.”
The controversy developed when the Huffington Post reported that Karen Pence teaches art part-time at a school in Northern Virginia that “bans” gays and transgendered people. Gay-rights advocates, Agence France-Presse reported, said the behavior standards required by Immanuel Christian School in Springfield, Virginia, send “the wrong message from the inner circles of U.S. power.”
The employment application at Immanuel Christian School asks applicants to affirm that God “intends sexual intimacy to occur only between a man and a woman who are married to each other and that God has commanded that no intimate sexual activity is engaged in outside of marriage between a man and a woman.”
It states further, the Washington Post reported: “Moral misconduct which violates the bona fide occupational qualifications for employees includes, but is not limited to, such behaviors as the following: heterosexual activity outside of marriage (e.g., premarital sex, cohabitation, extramarital sex), homosexual or lesbian sexual activity, polygamy, transgender identity, any other violation of the unique roles of male and female, sexual harassment, use or viewing of pornographic material or websites, and sexual abuse or improprieties toward minors as defined by Scripture and federal or state law.”
‘Lemme get this straight’
CNN’s Kate Bennett tweeted her disapproval of Karen Pence’s employment: “So, lemme get this straight, the second lady of the United States has chosen to work at a school that openly discriminates against LGBT adults and children?”
Ben Shapiro replied: “So, lemme get this straight. You’re a reporter but you’ve never heard of religious people before? ‘BREAKING: Pence’s wife is working for a Christian school that requires that Christian students pledge to abide by Christian standards of sin that have not changed in 2,000 years.'”
Tony Perkins, president of the Family Research Council, wrote in a blog post that criticism of Pence amounts to “attacks on Christian education by the mainstream media.”
“For Christians, who’ve tried to warn people that these last several years were about a lot more than marriage, the attacks on Second Lady Karen Pence certainly seem to prove their point,” he said.
Pointing to the Democratic National Platform, Perkins said, “Religious freedom, as Americans have known it for 233 years, will not be safe in the hands of a movement that is surgically targeting people of faith.”
He said the left’s “real problem isn’t that Mike Pence’s wife is working at an evangelical school — but that evangelical schools exist at all.”
Perkins insisted Immanuel Christian doesn’t “ban” anyone from the school but rather sets standards of behavior that apply to everyone.
“As Christians, our behavior doesn’t define us — we define our behavior,” he said.
The vice president appeared with his wife at the annual March for Life pro-life rally on the National Mall on Friday.
Religious test prohibited
He told the demonstrations his wife “is many things: She’s a mother. She’s an advocate for military families. … She’s even an art teacher at a Christian school. And I couldn’t be more proud of our second lady, my wife, Karen Pence.”
A tweet from the ACLU account said: “The Pences never seem to miss an opportunity to show their public service only extends to some.”
The gay-rights non-profit Human Rights Campaign launched an online petition urging people to tell “Karen Pence and her school to stop discriminating against LGBTQ students.”
In the interview with EWTN, Mike Pence emphasized that America has a “rich tradition” of religious education and “freedom of religion is enshrined in the Constitution of the United States.”
“The Constitution prohibits a religious test for holding a public office, and so we’ll let the other critics roll off our back, but this criticism of Christian education in America should stop,” the vice president said.